"Food anxiety" could plague the Canadians

Nutrition expert says Canadians may be going through "food anxiety" in the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic.

But healthy food options are still possible while practicing social distancing and self-isolation, even if that means having to turn to frozen and canned foods to make trips to the grocery store less frequent.

"People are clearly afraid of going to the grocery store and trying to limit time at the grocery store is probably a good idea," said Debora Sloan, a registered dietitian in Ottawa.

"And I think people are anxious and wondering if they are going to have enough food and if they should ration themselves. "

"I think we can try to get some positive out of this and people can use that time to do some meal preparation ahead of time, have fun with recipes, do things they can freeze and store for later, and experiment a little more with canned foods and frozen fruits and vegetables. "

Although there are fewer fresh produce and meat options available in some grocery stores across the country, Debora Sloan said there are still many alternatives on the shelves and in the refrigerated sections.

Things like tofu, Greek yogurt, egg whites and cottage cheese are perishable protein products that "last longer than we think", while canned lentils and beans, chickpeas and tuna contain protein with a longer shelf life. Having a plant-based protein powder on hand to add nutrients to things like smoothies and pancakes can also help.

Frozen fruits and vegetables also contain a lot of nutrients, said Sloan, adding that frozen options can be even better than fresh produce that ends up in a delivery truck after being picked.

Jonathan Conti, a dietitian who works in a long-term care home in Toronto, agrees.

"The advantage of frozen vegetables is that they are harvested at maximum freshness, blanched and frozen to preserve their nutritional value," said Jonathan Conti in an email to The Canadian Press. "I tend to choose frozen vegetables that would take longer to prepare when they are fresh. For example, frozen butternut squash, broccoli, cauliflower and spinach are nutrient-rich options that take minimal cooking time (when frozen). "

Mr. Conti recommends that people do a food inventory before shopping for groceries.

Knowing what is already in the closet not only helps plan meals, but it can also alleviate buying anxiety and limit time spent in a store.

"If you have an idea of ​​what you want to eat for the next two weeks, it will be easier to shop for any missing ingredients," said Jonathan Conti. “Healthy meals don't necessarily mean refined meals, and simple meals can be just as nutritious. "

“If you have low sodium broth, canned mixed beans, vegetables like carrots, peas, canned diced tomatoes, you can make a hearty soup that can last for several meals. "

While it's important to buy healthy food during a pandemic, Sloan says trying to maintain other healthy habits - what she calls "conscious eating" - becomes even more important as people are confined to their homes during social isolation and self-isolation.

"Being at home all the time increases access to food in the house and this can be problematic for people who are snackers or emotional eaters," the dietitian said in a telephone interview. People are stressed because there is a lot going on at the moment and they may be snacking more than they would if they were at work or school or doing their usual business. "

“It is therefore more important to stay in phase: why do I eat? Am i really hungry Will it satisfy my hunger? Do I eat because of stress? Do I eat because I am bored? "

Debora Sloan also warned that this is not the best time to completely revise your eating habits. Sticking to a more familiar plan could be a more effective course of action.

"People have a lot to do with the kids at home and the stress and they're not going to make huge behavior changes right now," she said. I think it’s just important to stay calm and aware. "

"It's also okay to eat junk food sometimes and not let it derail you. I think a lot of people have this attitude and it's hard to get out of it, so just try not to be so hard on yourself. "

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